Blasphemy of Srila Prabhupada – Introduction
“If I were to desist from lecturing about the Absolute Truth due to fear that some listeners may be displeased, I would be deviating from the path of Vedic truth and accepting the path of untruth. I would become one who is inimical to the Vedas, an atheist, and would no longer possess faith in Bhagavan, the very embodiment of truth. He who compromises is finished.” Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Vaibhava
“As it does, the [Srila Prabhupada’s] goal of creating a viable cultural alternative to mainstream American culture will cease to exist.” (Rochford, pg. 158-9)
The linked document is about a major historic controversy that took place in late 1999 and early 2000. The lack of action by the GBC, especially the GBC EC has had a lasting detrimental effect on ISKCON, more on that later.
Some points not covered in it but noteworthy are:
Because statements from Srila Prabhupada and sastra had previously defeated ISKCON feminists they decided to undermine the authority of both in order to have their way.
The GBC EC at the time included Bir Krsna Gosvami (chairman). They not only did nothing to stop the blasphemy but also actively protected the culprits Madhusudhani Radha dd (aka Maria Ekstrand owner of the CHAKRA website) and others.
The North American GBC dominated by feminists like Bir Krsna Gosvami, Ravindra Svarupa, Malati dd, and Anuttama Prabhu protected their fellow travellers – the blasphemers of Srila Prabhupada.
The abusers of Srila Prabhupada were all members of the Women’s Ministry (now strategically renamed Vaisnavi Ministry) or supporters of it. This is a GBC funded ministry.
Not even one female devotee (senior or junior) spoke up in defense of Srila Prabhupada. That includes Malati dd (who was a new GBC!), Vishakha dd, Urmila dd, Narayani dd, Prasanta dd, Kusha dd, etc. None of them. They are all members of the Women’s (Vaisnavi) Ministry.
The Women’s ministry had employed Madhusudhani Radha dd to write a paper in which she selectively quoted texts out of context to character assassinate those who objected to the rise of feminism in ISKCON. [In a private forum she admitted to doing so, see copy of her text at end*.]
Silence implies agreement.
Bir Krsna Gosvami is now at the forefront of pushing to make these same women gurus in ISKCON. And is on the committee to write ISKCON’s defining statement on the matter of Female Diksha Guru.
[As a point of interest during Bir Krsna Goswami’s tenure as GBC EC chairman, along with blatant blasphemy of Srila Prabhupada, all the cows on Murari Sevaka where he was GBC were sold for slaughter, the Turley Case was launched against ISKCON, and the GBC EC’s hardline position on Rtvikism started what has become a 14 year long court battle. Not a good year for him or ISKCON.]
Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu effectively blocked any attempt to expel those who blasphemed Srila Prabhupada.
Hrdayananda Dasa Gosvami and the late Bhakti Tirtha Goswami spoke in defense of the main culprit Madhusudhani Radha dd.
In 2004 when a motion was put forward to censure Madhusudhani Radha dd, after it was found that she not only blasphemed Srila Prabhupada but also Lord Rama again Ravindra Svarupa Dasa along with Braja Bhihari Dasa (ISKCON Resolve) successfully persuaded the GBC not to do so.
[A link to the Madhusudhani Radha’s feminist take on Lord Rama (she is not too thrilled with Lord Krsna either) – caution extremely toxic and offensive. http://www.harekrsna.com/sun/editorials/05-08/madhusudani.doc]
Ironically Ravindra Svarupa Dasa, is on the GBC committee for preserving the position of Srila Prabhupada. Why ironic, because he has done so much to destroy it.
Ravindra Svarupa Dasa, is considered the “wise old man” of the GBC. He sees himself as the senior statesman of ISKCON. But he didn’t foresee the negative consequences of his policy though everyone else could.
Burke Rochford devoted a whole section of his book Hare Krishna Transformed to this debacle. Here he explains why the GBC failed to come to Srila Prabhupada’s defense (emphasis mine).
One GBC member hinted at the reasons why the leadership failed to respond when he declared, “I hereby confess I came to find these reactions, ‘in defense of Srila Prabhupada,’ equally—no, even more so—troubling and upsetting than that which occasioned them.” As this statement implies, ISKCON’s leaders found themselves in an uncomfortable position, as pursuing a vigorous and public defense of Prabhupada meant aligning themselves with GHQ and its controversial agenda. One GBC member decided, “They are like the John Birch Society, and we didn’t want to raise their visibility and status. Plus it was politically safe just to ignore them, and we did”. (Rochford, p 157)
This GBC insultingly equates those who want to preserve the parampara to the John Birch Society – right wing extremists.
The GBC EC thought that those who were upset that Srila Prabhupada was insulted were worse than those who insulted Srila Prabhupada so they chose to do nothing when the Acarya was abused, loving feminism more than Srila Prabhupada.
And while the GBC EC may have thought it politically safe to ignore those who objected to Srila Prabhupada being insulted in his own house what was the result of this political ploy on ISKCON (emphasis mine)?
Such a cultural turn is significant because it signals the ways in which traditionalism [the parampara] no longer serves as the foundation of ISKCON’s religious culture. In embracing gender equality, ISKCON’s leaders aligned the organization with a defining feature of modern liberal culture. … The debate about women’s roles and place in ISKCON led to critical questioning of Prabhupada’s scriptural commentaries, as well as to his overall authority as Krishna’s pure representative. The fact that the leadership failed to act decisively on Prabhupada’s behalf was an acknowledgment that his authority no longer was absolute. … Yet as these teachings become reframed as guides for thought and action, in place of being “absolute truths,” traditionalism [the parampara] will continue its march to the margins of ISKCON. As it does, the goal of creating a viable cultural alternative to mainstream American culture will cease to exist. (Rochford, pg. 158-9)
Basically what Rochford is saying is that unless the damage done by the GBC EC of 1999-2000 (Bir Krsna Goswami) and their feminist fellow travellers is reversed then ISKCON as an instrument in Lord Caintanya’s mission is dead but doesn’t know it yet.
Note: Rochford’s is a highly one sided and biased book, he did not bother to contact anyone who supported the view of the parampara but rather only those of ISKCON feminists and secularists. Still it is very revealing in describing how much the leadership in North America has deviated from the guru parampara. To illustrate, one NA GBC leader said this:
“Let’s face it, twenty years ago what the GHQ is saying was accepted. It was the way we thought. But there has been a gradual, steady, historical transformation. There has been a gradual and peaceful shift in ISKCON, in the Prabhupada hermeneutic. Given the extreme sensitivity of some of these issues, I think the GBC is relieved that this shift has occurred.” (Rochford, p 157)
(Which NA GBC would use a word like “hermeneutic?”) So what he is saying is that 20-25 years ago most of ISKCON was supporting the vision of the guru paramapara. But gradually in due course of time the leaders especially of the North American GBC which dominates the GBC, fell into maya. They didn’t have the spiritual stamina to resist the pressures of the secular world they were preaching to and instead became compromised and coopted with maya. Rather than admit their inability and weakness and just resign and let more dedicated persons lead, they instead call anyone who still wants to carry the message of the guru parampara right wing fanatics and extremists.
When I first read Bhagavad-gita 4.2:
This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.
I could not imagine how a disciple would be so disloyal to his guru that he would deviate from the message of the guru parampara. But now I am seeing it with my own eyes.
Since the GBC EC (Bir Krsna Gosvami), and the rest of the NA GBC (Ravindra Swarupa, Anuttama, Malati) preferred to protect a vile blasphemer of Lord Rama and Srila Prabhupada it is no surprise that they have perverted and broken the guru parampara.
Rochford, E. Burke Jr. 2007. Hare Krishna Transformed, New York, NY, New York University Press
Download it for free from:
From: Maria Ekstrand [email@example.com]Sent: Tuesday, May 28, 2002 1:53 PM
Subject: Re: [TD] Urmila’s article
At 04:58 PM 5/28/02 +0000, you wrote:
> Also, I believe that he was part of the Cakra committee who
>published the GHQ expose — another important public service act.
What is this expose?
It’s something I wrote a few years ago after being given access to a secret COM conference, in which Shyam and others were plotting to destroy the women’s ministry. They called themselves GHQ (General Headquarters) because they saw themselves as some kind of paramilitary organization. It’s actually quite humorous how stupid they are….
ps. Ardhabuddi das means basically “servant of the halfbrains” or “halfintelligent”
See also the material at this link which shows how the Women’s ministry acquired the texts. It was later revealed by Hariballabha dd that the COM sysop’s wife Mukhya dd, at the request of the Women’s Ministry turned over all the texts to them.